Visual or Virtual Shopping?

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The Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, the second largest U.S mall west of the Mall of America, is undergoing a $200 million multi-year renovation that will ultimately result in a 100-retailer expansion. After 18 months of construction, the northern portion of the mall opened last month, boasting new stores, restaurants, and a 2,000-space parking structure with 20 electric vehicle charging stations.

As a Torrance resident, I’m amazed at the transformation. The sleek designs, plentiful skylights, and lofty green walls are truly impressive. Friends describe the new look as “beautiful” or “stunning” – terms not usually associated with a mall.

Still, with the convenience and popularity of online shopping, I wonder how effective this expensive makeover will be in the long term. Sure, the renovation will immediately draw more shoppers, but how long will it be before this transformation is old news? Why would anyone choose to battle the crowds in search of items that they can probably find faster (and possibly for a lower price) from the comfort of their home?

Mall owners throughout the country are reinvesting millions of dollars into their assets, because the only malls still alive in 20 years will be those that give shoppers a multi-faceted experience not found online. That’s why many recent shopping mall renovations incorporate relaxing seating areas where shoppers can leisurely chat with family and friends, visually appealing images and lighting, trendy restaurants, and full-service beauty salons.

What’s your prediction? In the era of online shopping, can multi-million dollar renovations save shopping malls from extinction?

Written by Dominique Clark, an Associate at RSG